Xavvi told me about a place called Luxe Lounge in Maricopa that was supposed to have a killer wing challenge. I wasn’t worried.
In fact, going in I was a bit cocky. We laughed off the wings Zipps warned us about, we handled the Donkey wings at The Reef without issue, we easily (but fucking slowly) got through the hottest wings the Hops N’ Heat contest could throw at us, and I had already experienced The Toothpick at NY Boys. How much worse could it get?
This is how I expected it to play out: Xavvi and I would strut through the door and order up the suicide challenge wings. We would smirk at their warnings and sign their death waiver without a care. After the wings arrived we would pick each of the dozen wings apart with little fanfare. When we finished, we would raise our fists in the air like victorious boxers and we would head home to watch the the highlights of the whole event on ESPN.
That isn’t exactly how it played out.
It started out alright. We did our approximation of strutting in and grabbed some seats at the bar. The bartender served us a beer each and we told her we wanted to try out the wing challenge. She didn’t seem to know a lot about the challenge (I guess they don’t get too many challengers) but she knew enough that she didn’t think it was a good idea. We insisted so she busted out the obligatory death waiver. We had seen a similar waiver enough times at this point that we assumed it was just a gimmick.
Another guy came around, a manager maybe, and was trying to look up the official rules for the challenge. He thought there was supposed to be a time limit for the wings but he couldn’t find the rule anything that said that so waved it off. No time limit? Even easier.
It took a little bit for them to prepare the wings so we hung out and enjoyed the ambiance. Luxe Lounge is situated in a super shopping structure with other restaurants, bars, a bowling alley, and a movie theatre. I liked the place. It was nice and new and had a good vibe. It was not what I imagine when I picture the Maricopa nightlife.
When the wings came came out they were coated with a thick paste rather than the typical sauce. I have had experience with wings that had a paste on them before and they were pretty intense. That was many years ago though and my tolerance was a much higher level. The smell wasn’t overpowering like a lot of suicide wings were. That gave me hope.
Then they took or beers from us and put them in the fridge. No drinks were allowed during the challenge.
Obviously, as very serious wing journalists we couldn’t turn back at that point so we dove right into the wings. From the first bite you could tell these weren’t normal wings. The heat hadn’t hit me quite yet but there was some X factor that set them apart.
I had just finished my first wing and was getting ready start in on my second one when I look over to see Xavvi telling the bartender he was done. One wing was all it took to know that was not going to happen for him. It actually took them a while to realize he wanted his damn beer back.
Under normal circumstances I would probably have called him out for being a pussy and peer pressured him into eating more than he wanted to, you know, like friends do. But these were not normal circumstances and I was digging into my second wing. The level of the heat was starting to register with me and I found myself in no position to criticize someone for bowing out of those wings.
The heat was unbelievable. It wasn’t like a normal, decent suicide wing where you feel the heat on your lips and your tongue. That is not to say that I didn’t feel it on my lips and my tongue and my face and in my eyes but all of those paled in comparison to the pain in my throat. Everything else was just background noise at that point. My throat was on fire. It felt like it was going to close up on me after the second wing and I had nothing to drink to alleviate the pain.
The smart play at that point was to follow Xavvi’s lead and concede defeat after only my second wing but my pride was in the way. I had never met a dozen wings I couldn’t eat and I was determined not to let those wings be the first.
I forced myself to eat a third wing and then a fourth. The kitchen staff kept peeking around the corner to watch the progress. The fifth wing is when it really started getting intense. I barely made it through. I hesitated before I went for the sixth wing and thought it through for a minute. I figured I don’t have a time limit so I would just wait it out between wings so I could get through them.
I sat there for a while after that fifth wing just concentrating on my breathing and trying to convince myself that the pain wasn’t as bad as I thought it was like the fucking liar I am. Eventually I built up the courage to get that sixth wing. I could do this, I thought. Just one more wing and I would be half way through. It would all be downhill from there.
I knew that sixth wing was a mistake as soon as I took my first bite. I don’t know what made me finish that wing other than some delusional part of my subconscious that still didn’t think it was over. It was wrong. I finished that sixth wing and immediately threw in the towel. I would have hung my head in shame except I couldn’t spare any thought towards anything but guzzling water and beer nonstop so there was always something cool on my throat.
The only other time I have felt anything like that was when I made myself sick chugging orange soda after the toothpick at NY Boys.
I would describe what the wings tasted like but I have no fucking clue. The only thing that stuck with me through that experience is the memory of the intense pain. I did have an interesting taste experience though. The San Tan beer I had ordered before we started suddenly tasted crazy sweet. The water they gave me tasted sweet too. I shrugged it off at the moment because I had bigger things on my mind (like trying not to make their death waiver justified).
That taste issue came up again though as we progressed through the night. I kept ordering familiar beers and water and everything tasted sweet. I was legitimately concerned I had permanently ruined my taste buds. That went on for three more days.
That wasn’t all though. My fingers burned for the entire weekend as well. They were so hot despite any amount of washing them that two days later I touched my wife’s arm and her arm would burn. This was not normal fucking spiciness.
The cook who made the wings came out and talked to us after the challenge. Well, talked to Xavvi mostly because my water cup was not leaving my lips. She told us about her process with ghost peppers and how she knows it is ready when it starts to seem hot to her (WHAT THE FUCK?!).
She hooked me up with an extra shirt they had laying around was meant for people who finished the challenge. I assume that was out of pity.
She told us that a few people had completed the challenge early on so she upped the spiciness to the level we tried. Just keep that in mind if you happen to be reading this and have finished the challenge: you finished the pussy version. Go try it again.
If you are considering trying the challenge let me just give you this bit of advice: Go for it. It really is no big deal and you won’t regret it at all for several days after.
This post was written by Tyler